Livestock-based food production is an important and pervasive way humans impact the environment. It causes about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is the key land user and source of water pollution by nutrient overabundance. It also competes with biodiversity, and promotes species extinctions. Empowering consumers to make choices that mitigate some of these impacts through devising and disseminating numerically sound information is thus a key socio- environmental priority. Unfortunately, currently available knowledge is incomplete and hampered by reliance on divergent methodologies that afford no general comparison of relative impacts of animal-based products. To overcome these hurdles, we introduce a methodology that facilitates such a comparison. We show that minimizing beef consumption mitigates the environmental costs of diet most effectively.

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Beef- about X 10 more resources/Kcal

How Global is my Local Milk?

‘‘Local food’’ is gaining in popularity, particularly within a rising alternative food movement, yet it remains an ambiguous term. We use an illustrative example— the case of ‘‘local milk’’ in Hawai‘i—to demonstrate this point. We evaluate  localness’’ by measuring the origins of production inputs by economic value and physical mass–an approach that is akin to the Made in America standard. The innovative method we propose is easily replicable to other food products or locations worldwide. We find that most first order production related inputs are obtained from non-local sources. Our findings are significant to the local food debate because a focus beyond the point of production to upstream inputs in the life cycle of a
food item can push towards a re-framing what local means both in Hawai‘i and beyond. In particular, our findings suggest that production system type, as opposed to location of production end-point, might have a greater impact on the degree of localness of a product. Looking forward, a shift in focus towards production system characteristics may help researchers make headway in exploring the environmental and economic effects of local food.

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